With the Scudetto secured a whole ago and the race for the final Champions League spot all but concluded, the battle for survival now looms as the most enticing aspect of the closure of this year’s Serie A.
So far in the relegation battle, Sampdoria and Cremonese have been all but powerless to avoid the drop. Several teams remain in touching distance of the drop zone; Verona, Spezia and Lecce now battle it out for survival amongst themselves with the final two games of the season left to play.
Monza are now confirmed safe with their future in the Serie A secure for another year as they host Lecce this weekend, but Lecce will be going after all three points away from home to secure survival for next year with one game to go. The trouble is, Lecce’s recent form is less than inspiring to say the least. One win in their previous five matches along with two draws does not make good reading. Coupled with the fact that in their last six away fixtures, they have found the net just three times, scoring enough to find victory against opponents that are eight places above them will be a tough ask.
The hosts are in fantastic form, they have not lost in any of their last five games and have racked up three wins in that run. Raffaelle Palladino has set his team up to be hard to beat, with neither Sassuolo nor league champions Napoli being able to take any points from them despite their prowess going forward, with other impressive results being back-to-back draws with Torino and Roma in recent weeks, Monza have behaved more like top-four contenders in recent weeks than a mid-table team.
As we approach the end of the season, both teams have mostly overcome their injuries from earlier in the campaign. In fact, there is a decent chance that Lecce’s defender Morten Hjulmand will be available again for selection as well as young defensive deputy Kastriot Dermaku. The home side have a clean bill of health and will only be without one first-team player: Luca Caldirola is suspended for this match and will be absent from the defence due to poor discipline previously.
Lecce will turn once again to Brazilian winger Gabriel Strefezza to potentially unlock Monzas defence, he has been Lecce’s most consistent attacking outlet this season with a combined 11 goals and assists and he will be looking to use his agility and trickery to carve out something for his team.
Another Brazilian is on the cards as being Monza’s most effective player, the versatile Carlos Augusto has similarly contributed with a combined 11 goals and assists, operating on the opposite flank to his countryman Carlos Augsuto has combined his defensive and attacking capabilities perfectly this season and his ability in the air will need to be dealt with.
Expert Insight: Other matches will be important in the story or Lecce’s fate, but they could go a long way in helping themselves with even a point from this difficult fixture. Monza want to give their fans a taste of things to come and with them being in such great form, they could be a real problem for Lecce, especially away from home where they have been very poor throughout the season.